Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Did Jesus just call me "evil"?

I have been meditating this week upon the last line from last Sunday's gospel reading. Jesus said:

Luke 11:13
If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will the heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!

The meaning is straightforward enough. The emphasis is on the fact that our heavenly Father is good and generous. The comparison is that even if a bad earthly Father is naturally generous to his children, how much more will a perfect heavenly Father be good and generous to his children.

And then it hits me. Did Jesus just call us good Christians "evil"? It seems a little out of place in some sense. That is, as far as I can tell he is talking to his disciples, not to some hypocritical pharisee which he has just rebuked. He talking to me. Yet I cannot deny the fittingness of the words, given the knowledge of my own sinfulness. It's just so striking when coming from the lips of the Savior. It's all so Calvinistic.

The only commentary I have found addressing it is an insightful one from my 1928 A New Commentary on the Holy Scriptures, which I picked up because Bishop Gore was one of the authors. It has this to say:

Even when Christ is appealing to the natural goodness in men, he will not let us forget our corruption. Luke's word is strong--huparchontes (being by nature) poneroi (bad or mean).

Any further thoughts from my readers? I also found it interesting that Luke 11:13 has the following cross references in my Bible:

Genesis 6:5
The LORD saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every(B) intention of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually.

Genesis 8:21
And when the LORD smelled the pleasing aroma, the LORD said in his heart, "I will never again curse the ground because of man, for the intention of man’s heart is evil from his youth. Neither will I ever again strike down every living creature as I have done."

Matthew 12:34
You brood of vipers! How can you speak good, when you are evil? For out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks.


Andrew Teather said...

I wonder if you could tell me where the High Mass set on this entry came from?
Saturday, June 30, 2007
Defend us in the day of battle ?
It is just the thing we need for our church!

Fr Timothy Matkin said...

It belongs to the St. Michael's Conference, Southwest, which meets at Camp Crucis in Granbury Texas. I made it from materials available at local fabric stores.

Sorry, I'm not taking orders.